Reality Works Blog

Inside Sales and Sales 2.0 thought leaders discuss trends, technology and best practices.

Guest Post by Josiane Feigon: Sally has my vote!

It’s so great to hear the community’s reaction to our announcement of Sally Duby’s change in role at Phone Works. Here’s a particularly nice one, celebrating Sally’s contributions to the inside sales profession, from our friend and partner, Josiane Feigon.  Josiane is President of TeleSmart Communications, author of “Smart Selling on the Phone and Online” and writer of the Cubicle Chronicles” blog, where this post appeared yesterday.

Two weeks from now,  the most influential inside sales experts will gather for AA-ISP’s Leadership Summit in Minneapolis on May 10th and 11th. The line-up of speakers, authors and sessions is impressive. These two days will be packed with information designed to energize and educate you to a new level. If you haven’t signed up, I highly recommend you carve out time to attend this fantastic event. You can even use my promo code “TeleSmart” when registering and get a discount to attend the conference.

One of the highlights of the upcoming  event is the Awards Ceremony, which recognizes some of the most influential inside sales professional. Last year, I was honored with this award and hope to hold on to my crown this year also. But wait, there’s room for more – so Sally Duby gets my personal vote for most influential inside sales professional 2011.

For the past 15 years, Sally has been at the helm running Anneke Seley’s successful company, Phone Works. Her leadership has helped PhoneWorks achieve tremendous growth. She has also been instrumental in developing Silicon Valley’s Telebusiness Alliance which is a thriving professional organizaiton of inside sales managers and directors who meet on a bi-monthly basis to discuss trends, compensation, tools, etc.

Sally Duby and Kevin Bacon have one thing in common, everyone revolves 6 degrees around them. Over the years, I have found myself in so many situations where I mention Sally Duby and suddenly, I’m family – everyone knows Sally!  If I ever start a Perez Hilton–type gossip blog or an Entertainment Today show around the inside sales industry, Sally will be my main source.

There’s nothing worse that being misunderstood and the inside sales field is one of the most complicated and confusing industries out there and many people don’t get it. Sally Duby does–inside and out. She knows the field, the people, the processes, the technology and deeply understands how it all changes within seconds. She knows how a company never really believes they have arrived because once they do, it’s time to tear it down and put it back together.

Sally has recently taken on a new position managing the SMB business for Skype, working closely with another inside sales powerhouse, Cathy Sidwell. These two together will transform Skype and make inroads into areas we never thought possible, so I’m excited to see it happen and wish her luck.

Hyper-Focus on “Big Game.” Miss Big Revenue.

Existing customers may be fastest route to ROI

Guest Post by Brent Holloway

Ever hear salespeople referred to as hunters and farmers? Hunters “hunt” for new business outside the fold; i.e.: they convert prospects to customers. Farmers till the soil within, growing revenues from existing customers. It’s easy for companies to be enamored with their hunters, because they bring in the “big game” (big new deals), while farmers, who tend to close more, smaller transactions, often work relatively unrecognized in their shadow.

I’d like to suggest that you may be missing out on big revenue by focusing too much on big game.

I know every business is different and no single sales model is right for all, but your answers to the following questions might mean you should hire more farmers and consider putting them on quota. And maybe, just maybe, you should fit your hunters with a pair of overalls and teach them how to farm.

Answer “yes” to these…focus more on the farm.

  1. Does more than 50% of your annual revenue (or some other % you consider significant) come from existing customers?
  2. If you offer a wide range of products and services, do you find many of your customers only use one or a few?
  3. Do you hear too often that your customers feel neglected, that they no longer receive the level of partnering or engagement they did when they first became customers?
  4. Is your customer attrition or turnover rate higher than you would like it to be?
  5. Are you losing more customers to the competition than you’re winning in return?

Answer “no” to these…you could be missing big revenue.

  1. Do all customers have an assigned salesperson?
  2. Is each customer contacted frequently enough?
  3. Do you survey lost customers to find out why they were lost?
  4. Have your salespeople run a gap analysis to assess which products and services each of your customers is using today?
  5. Do your customers really know what you have to offer?
    (If you were to run a customer education campaign on the breadth of your product/service portfolio, you might be surprised how often customers say, “Oh, I didn’t know your company did that.”)

Of course you can’t ignore hunting. You’ll always need to offset some customer attrition and competitive loss. But the impact of optimizing sales to existing customers might be several times that of new business acquisition.

Here’s just one example. If 80% of your revenue last year came from existing customers and the other 20% from new customers, then a 10% increase in sales from existing customers would have the same impact on revenue as a 40% increase in sales to new customers (8% company growth from either scenario). In this case, the opportunity to hunt on the farm is greater than in the jungle.

Five ways to grow customer revenue

In closing, here are five suggestions to grow revenue from your existing customer base.

  1. Cross-selling
  2. Up-selling
  3. Targeted campaign offers just for your installed base
  4. Adding dedicated customer-focused sales resources (and putting them on quota)
  5. Targeted price increases, where price sensitivity is low or inelastic

It’s often said that a company’s employees are its most important “asset,” even though they don’t show up on a balance sheet. I would argue its customers are an equal, if not more valuable, asset of this type.

What is your business doing to optimize the value of your customer base?

Want to see how your account team performs compared to others? Download our 2011 Inside Sales Renewal Metrics Report.

Brent Holloway , a Sales 2.0 leader (@Sales20Leader), is Sales Director for Verint Systems and my co-author on Sales 2.0 ­ Improve Business Results Using Innovative Sales Practices and Technology. Thanks, Brent, for helping us see the forest from the trees, or should I say, “the farm from the jungle”?

Six simple, yet powerful Benioff-isms

What business leaders can learn from this often controversial, industry-changing man.

As Marc Benioff’s first manager at Oracle (more years ago than I care to mention), I was like a proud Mom watching him dazzle the crowd at Dreamforce this year.  Once teacher, now eager student, I filled my MacBook Air and Twitter stream with inspiring ideas, but what stuck with me were not his words as much as what he does.  Benioff-isms, I coined them, six simple, yet powerful practices that I have observed over years of working with and admiring him.  I believe they are keys to his success.  Let’s learn from the man…

1. Thank (and promote) your customers.

One of the first things Marc does every year at Dreamforce is to thank his customers.  It’s a simple thing, yet often overlooked as we rush on to the next pressing deal.  Marc is quick to say, “We couldn’t do it without you.” And we saw evidence of his gratitude throughout the conference halls in the form of huge hero banners recognizing Salesforce customers.


2. Share your own best practices.

Some of my favorite sessions at Dreamforce are those presented by the company’s own employees. Opening the kimono to how Salesforce manages leads, uses Chatter, or (my pick this year) manages its explosive growth show a generosity to share. While other companies jealously guard internal practices, Salesforce understands that being open and giving customers this information can help improve their businesses, which in turn leads to good things for Salesforce.


3. Give back.

Did you know that Marc started the Foundation just one year after founding the company?  Since then the Foundation has launched the 1-1-1 program donating 1% of profits, 1% of equity and 1% of employee hours, and has made a major donation to fund the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital (which will be a showcase for improving patient care via technology, by the way).  And that just begins to describe the contributions they’ve made.  At Dreamforce, “Green Angels” were on hand to reduce our carbon footprint by helping attendees decipher garbage vs. recycling vs. compost. (It’s harder than you might think!)

Social responsibility is in Marc’s DNA and it just so happens that it’s also good for business.  Studies show that customers want to do business with companies that are not only “social enterprises” but also have a social conscience.


4. Broaden the Conversation.

Perhaps my very favorite part of Dreamforce is the “Unusual Thinkers” track, which features some of the best medical minds from UCSF. No doubt that’s partly because I have a degree in Human Biology and innovation in healthcare interests me. But it’s more than that. It’s generally agreed that breakthroughs in any field come from interdisciplinary, cross-pollination of ideas. By introducing an audience of technologists and business leaders to the latest in medicine, couldn’t we accomplish something “#awesome” together? Kudos to Marc for recognizing that his customers have a wide range of interests, and for providing them the opportunity to think and learn “outside the box.”


5. Walk the talk.

Marc talks about the new social enterprise and guess what?  He is authentically social. He actively uses Twitter (@benioff) and Facebook ( as well as his own product, Chatter. You can tell your staff that social initiatives are a top priority, but if you aren’t taking part, you send a message… not the one you want.


6. Lead a movement…or two is credited with popularizing Software as a Service (SaaS) and is considered today to be the leading force in enterprise cloud computing.  Against this backdrop, in front of a packed house, Marc set down the cloud banner and declared the company reborn “social.”  As if one industry-changing movement was not enough, Benioff is calling for an uprising reflective of the current “Arab Spring.” He challenged corporations to lay down their closed,controlling ways in favor of a world where communication and business are social, mobile, open and collaborative – a world that recognizes customers and employees are already Communicating, sharing, and living online, in real-time.

Benioff can do for the social business movement something that all the authors, thought leaders, individual contributors and small companies in the Sales 2.0 and Social Selling communities have not been able to accomplish.  He can take the message to the CEOs of the largest global corporations. Driving home the point, he shared the stage and the story of working personally with Angela Ahrendts, CEO of Burberry, to collaboratively develop her social business strategy, displaying a diagram-covered napkin as evidence.  Angela is now a highly-visible, articulate, impressive (and beautifully-dressed!) spokesperson for “social” and also

OK, so maybe we can’t all start a worldwide movement, but the lesson here for leaders is be leaders – think big, be revolutionary and lead boldly, whatever your sphere of influence.   And maybe, just maybe, the reason Benioff has been able to change the world is that he faithfully follows the first five practices.

Interested in learning more about Salesforce best practices – about their sales growth strategy, including how they map sales resources to markets, how they balance and define territories and what metrics they track? Contact me.  I took lots of notes and I’ll happily share what I learned.

37 Character Tweet Led to Multi-Thousand Dollar Opportunity.

Still think Social Selling is a lot of hype?

While large and small companies alike continue to puzzle over the impact of social media on sales, these giants in our industry are here to say it’s here to stay.  What giants?  IBM and Microsoft.  And they have the stories to back it up.

A few weeks ago I had a conversation with executives from IBM and Microsoft about their social initiatives.  Their results should help convince the most skeptical of executives about the virility of social to produce measurable revenue results.  Joining me in the conversation, which was hosted by The Customer Collective (many thanks!), were Bill Patterson (@bpatter), Product Planning and Strategy Lead for Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and Doug Hannan (@ibmdough), a business unit executive at in marketing in North America.  Here are a few edited excerpts from our conversation.

Turned 37 characters into thousands of dollars

Anneke:  Bill…could you explain how your role at Microsoft relates to social media and sales?

Bill:  We find ourselves today helping organizations take advantage of social media to create much deeper engagement in the line of sales, service and marketing initiatives.  My job is to listen to the best examples – from companies all around the world – of how they use social media to boost their bottom line, so that we can, in turn, help deliver the right tools and solutions to help them take this new channel of engagement to new heights for their organization.

Anneke:  For the sports fans and business leaders among us, tell us about your NBA social media story.

Bill:  Sure.  As sports fans know, sometimes going to a stadium can be tough when your team isn’t performing as expected.  Yet ticket sellers still have a responsibility to fill stadium seats.  What we learned and shared with the NBA – a client of ours – is that one of the best times to sell tickets is during the annual draft process, when fans have the most hope for maybe a change in direction.  By mining social networks like Twitter, one NBA team was able to tap into the pulse and tone of how excitement was building for a player they had selected, and they simply tweeted something along the lines of “Exciting…can’t wait to go to a game next year!”  That simple 37 character response drove new leads and new sales lead conversions into their sales organizations in real time.  It turned into a multi-thousand seat … multi-thousand dollar opportunity.

Anneke:  These players – I was checking Twitter last night – have millions of followers, right?

Bill:  They do.  The opportunity for distribution is quite impressive and really gives these teams and organizations an opportunity to connect in new ways to both their existing fan base and plenty of potential customers, as well.

Quadrupled order volumes in first quarter

Anneke:  Doug, you’re not increasing ticket sales, but you are generating revenue for something recognized by those of us in technology as almost as hot – cloud offerings.  Can you tell us about your program and results?

Doug:  I’m happy to.  We wanted to understand our clients’ needs in the area of cloud computing, and we turned to social media to listen.  There are a lot of conversations happening on the web, but frankly there’s also a lot of clutter.  It’s hard to pick out what really matters.

We created a systematic approach of listening to marketplace leaders, and from there created some messages our sellers can use in their social conversations to foster a dialog with our customers. These messages might include referrals to industry experts, new information on how other clients are using IBM cloud computing, or other relevant information in this fast-paced area.

One of the differences in what we did is that instead of asking each seller to try and understand the marketplace, in a free-for-all environment, we organized our listening and presented messages to the sellers, who could then edit them, send, retweet, etc.  All they had to do was tailor the message to make it appropriate for their particular context.

Anneke:  A lot of companies are trying to figure out how to take one sales rep’s success with social media and scale it across their organization.  It sounds like you’ve found a way to do that.  What were the results?

Doug:  Our results were pretty exciting.  Our pilot included just five inside sales reps using 10 social promotions.  From that we grew our direct contacts by 480%, expanded our reach ten-fold, and quadrupled order volumes within the first quarter.

“Pretty exciting” is some understatement.  Bill and Doug had much more to share.  (I was like a kid in a candy shop!)  Here are just some of the topics we touched on…

  • The value of listening and being responsive
  • Social media policy
  • Metrics
  • Scaling social strategy across an organization and around the globe
  • Compensation for social teams
  • Sales and marketing collaboration
  • And so much more

You can hear the entire conversation here – minus a few breaks where we had some recording difficulties.  My apologies!

Are you skeptical about social selling?  What are your fears?  If not, tell us what’s

3 Question Quiz: Test your Inside Sales knowledge

Think you have a pretty good handle on common inside sales practices? Let’s see how your knowledge compares with results just published from our 2011 Inside Sales Metrics Survey.


  1. What’s the industry average number of inside sales reps per manager?
  2. What’s the average ramp time for new IS reps?
  3. Did high-performing companies – those that achieved 100% of quota in 2010 – have higher or lower quotas than average companies?


  1. The average ratio of IS reps to managers was 9:1.
  2. 5 months…the average ramp time for new IS reps.
  3. You might think high-performing companies had lower quotas, explaining how they could achieve their results, but quite the opposite was true. According to our survey, on average, high-performing companies had quotas of $9.9M vs. $7.8M. Their success factor? Their reps made quota nearly 20% more often than reps at average companies.

Want to learn more about what’s happening in the industry and how high-performing IS teams differ from the average? Download any or all of the reports from the survey. You’ll find breakouts on Inside Sales, Sales Development (Lead Generation), Renewal Operations, and Management Practices.

So how did you do? How many questions did you get right? What were your answers?

Hope you had fun with this. A big thanks to all who participated in the survey and especially and AA-ISP for helping us publicize it.


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